Old Mountains moat, fishpond and warren


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009514

Date first listed: 09-Oct-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Dec-1992


Ordnance survey map of Old Mountains moat, fishpond and warren
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Northamptonshire

District: South Northamptonshire (District Authority)

Parish: Helmdon

National Grid Reference: SP 61508 42965


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

Old Mountains monument at Astwell has an unusually well preserved and built-up island which retains considerable archaeological potential for the recovery of evidence of building foundations and the pre-medieval ground surface in the interior. The moated site is also associated with a fishpond and several pillow mounds, both typical components, illustrating the various methods of food production in the local medieval food economy.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


Old Mountains lies in a broad valley to the south-west of Astwell Park Farm, just north of Crowfield. The monument consists of a moated site with a large associated fishpond, and the nearby remains of a small warren. The moated site covers an area approximately 110m x 100m. The moat island is sub-rectangular and stands up to 1m above the surrounding land with a slight inner bank about 0.5m high on its north, south and east sides. A triangular area of the island on the west has been separated from the main moat island at a later date by an oblique ditch. Within the moat island, on its west side, two rectangular depressions indicate the locations of small ponds. The island is surrounded by a partially waterlogged moat ditch between 1.5m and 2m deep on the north, east and west sides. The southern ditch has been infilled leaving a series of depressions and a small mound. The moat lies near to the western edge of a deer park and is thought likely to be the location of the park keeper's lodge. Just to the south of the moat are the earthwork remains of a massive fishpond and dam. The dam lies on the southern side of the site and spans the valley of a stream. On the eastern side of the stream the dam stands as a bank up to 3m high, but on the western side the dam has been ploughed and survives as a bank 1.5m high. It is thought that the pond originally covered the whole of this field which on early maps is known as Pool Meadow. On the north-east side of the dam lies a waterlogged ditch approximately 200m long which is thought to be the remains of a water channel from the pond, and a low bank which lies between this ditch and the moated site is also considered to be part of the earthworks of the water management system. On the north-west side of the field containing the large fishpond is a warren consisting of two pillow mounds. One mound 15m long lies from north to south and the second mound 55m long lies east to west; both mounds are between 1.5m and 2m high.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 13654

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , Archaeological sites of Northamptonshire, Volume III86-7

End of official listing